Monday, May 05, 2008

CALORIES ON THE NYC MENU's and MENU BOARDS

Awhile back, I wrote a post on the NYC caloric labeling regulation. For those that haven't been keeping up, today was the day that calories are officially being posted on the menus and menu boards in New York City restaurant chains of 15 or more. Chain restaurants are about 10% of the total number of establishments; however, one-third of caloric intake comes from this amount. This is why the posting initiative was so important as a measure to provide people with the information needed to make informed decisions at the time of purchase.

Today the city health inspectors may began issuing violations if calories were not posted. The fines will be given on July 18th-- a hefty sum of $200-$2,000 depending upon how unprepared the chain is! The New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) still wants to overturn the ruling, probably because they can hardly bear seeing profits spiral once people begin to realize that they're eating 510 calories worth of quarter pounder...

I mentioned in my last post that one may never know how many calories she's inhaling -- even at a "healthy" soup and salad NY-safe-haven, such as Hale & Hearty. What I DID NOT know was that Hale & Hearty turned out to be one of the many companies against this new regulation! Also in major opposition are players like the Center for Consumer Freedom, which has been the P.R. for the tobacco, alcohol and restaurant industries. Those industries are all major stakeholders in this issue since these powerful groups run ads that seek to dismiss obesity as a problem. The National Restaurant Association, the International Franchise Association, Wendy’s, Domino’s Pizza, Auntie Anne’s, Darden Restaurants, and Carvel Ice Cream are all in opposition, as well.

Luckily, the powerful stakeholders that support the regulation are leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Additionally, CSPI, the Citizen’s Committee for Children, the New York Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Alliance, the NYS District of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University, the Institute for Human Nutrition at Columbia University, the Public Health Association of New York City, and the New York City Nutrition Education Network (NYCNEN) are also supporters.

Due to the escalating prevalence of obesity in both children and adults and the fact that New Yorkers get a third of their calories outside of the home, the caloric posting is assumed to have a major health impact. Not only will it now supply evidence for the effectiveness of how posted information can make a difference in food choices, but it will also show the rationale that there IS a need for more intensive nutrition education.

Keep an eye on the progress of other states (or petition!) here: www.menulabeling.org

2 comments:

Dougiva said...

Ignorance was bliss.

Anonymous said...

Marissa,

I came upon your blog and I thought I would post a contrasting point of view. I'm against the legislation forcing restaurants to post caloric content on menus. I'm against it because it is redundant, costly and is yet another way our government is getting in the way of personal responsibility.

When you go into a McDonalds for example, they have brochures that list detailed nutritional (or lack of nutrition) for every item on the menu. This information is also available on their website. Each of the other restaurants you note in your blog do the same thing. Through this legislation, restaurants must reprint their menuboards so the information is more front and center. Most franchisees have to bear this cost - and again, it's posting something that is already available in the restaurant.

Most importantly, this bugs me because we, as individuals, should be smart enough to bear the responsibility for the food we choose to eat. The information is available, and I don't need the government to hold my hand when I enter a restaurant.

Anyway - thanks for the forum so I can post another view. BTW, just so everyone knows, I'm not some fast food junkie that wants order my Big Mac in peace. I very rarely eat poorly, I go to the gym several times a week, and (generally) take care of my body.

Thanks!

Nutrition Website

My personal blog here at Blogger is still going to remain intact; however, please visit my new website, http://marissabeck.wordpress.com, which will host more nutrition topics (because obviously you just can't get enough!)